Architecture of the People for the People: Part 3/12 of the 12 P’s–– A Guideline of Design for Architects and Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect #ilmaBlog #Architecture

A 12 part series on the 12 P’s Doctrine: A Guideline of Design for Architects & Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect; developed by Frank Cunha III, AIA, NCARB, MBA.

PART THREE

Architecture of the People for the People

Culture of Stakeholders: When project stakeholders do not share a common culture, project management must adapt its organizations and work processes to cope with cultural differences.

The following are three major aspects of cultural difference that can affect a project:

  • Communications
  • Negotiations
  • Decision making

Communication is perhaps the most visible manifestation of culture. Architects, owner representatives, project managers, and contractors often confront cultural differences in communication in language, context, and candor. Language is clearly the greatest barrier to communication. When project stakeholders do not share the same language, communication slows down and is often filtered to share only information that is deemed critical.

The barrier to communication can influence project execution where quick and accurate exchange of ideas and information is critical. The interpretation of information reflects the extent that context and candor influence cultural expressions of ideas and understanding of information. In some cultures, an affirmative answer to a question does not always mean yes. The cultural influence can create confusion on a project where project stakeholders represent more than one culture.

Some tips for effective communication

(based on the 10 Tips for Effective Communication by Liz Kingsnorth):

  1. An intention for connection.
  2. Listen more than you speak.
  3. Understand the other person first.
  4. Understand needs, wishes and values.
  5. Begin with empathy.
  6. Take responsibility for your feelings.
  7. Make requests that are practical, specific and positive.
  8. Use accurate, neutral descriptions.
  9. Be willing to hear “No”.
  10. Ways we communicate other than words.

Without the people on a project a great building will never be built.  We need to empathize with all the workers and consultants that help make a project a reality and see things from their perspective and find common ground to develop solutions that work for the overall good of the project. 

If you are dealing with toxic individuals consider the following advice:

  1. Set limits. Take it from me, toxic people do not do well with boundaries.
  2. Pick your battles wisely. It’s tricky to balance being cordial with not wanting to normalize someone’s emotionally abusive behavior.
  3. Recognize and distance yourself from their behavior.
  4. Focus on the positive.
  5. Utilize your support system.

More advice on tackling problematic individuals is available by clicking here.

The skills which are needed to take on task-focused team roles include:

  1. Organizing and Planning Skills. Being organized is essential to getting tasks done.
  2. Decision-Making.
  3. Problem-Solving.
  4. Communication Skills.
  5. Persuasion and Influencing Skills.
  6. Feedback Skills.
  7. Skills in Chairing Meetings.
  8. Conflict resolution.

Who is Going to Use the Architecture You Create?

Finally, and most importantly it is important to consider the occupants who will be using the space.  As most of the work I do is in the public realm, I always consider how best to create spaces that are accessible and inclusive to everyone.  It is important to always focus on the people who will be using the spaces that you design and create.

Hopefully, the analysis provided in this post will help you start to think about ways that working with others can help you build a strong team to help you accomplish your project goals.  Without people, architecture cannot be designed or constructed on a large scale.

Subscribe to our blog for updates on each of the 12 doctrines established by Frank CunhaIII, AIA, NCARB, MBA.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

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Purpose of Architecture: Part 2/12 of the 12 P’s–– A Guideline of Design for Architects and Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect #ilmaBlog #Architecture

A 12 part series on the 12 P’s Doctrine: A Guideline of Design for Architects & Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect; developed by Frank Cunha III, AIA, NCARB, MBA.

PART TWO

Purpose of Architecture

The purpose of Architecture is to improve human life. Create timeless, free, joyous spaces for all activities in life. The infinite variety of these spaces can be as varied as life itself and they must be as sensible as nature in deriving from a main idea and flowering into a beautiful entity. The overriding essence is found in the intangibles, life–heart–soul–spirit–freedom–enduring within the structure. The basic needs of the human being and the subtle variations of the individual are the source for Real Architecture as well as, of course, the natural environment and the natural use of materials. Thus creating – new- changing- to infinity yet timeless Architecture.

–John Lautner, Architect F.A.I.A.

The quote above from Lautner captures the essence of what Architects try to achieve. You can learn more about Lautner by clicking here for his biography. Great design is all about great purpose. Without a purpose Architecture is just a sculpture. Learn more about “Sculpture Architects” by clicking here.

To design with a purpose is the ability to find a special meaning and correlation (and co-relationship) with the occupant and the built work itself. The space transcends the normal reality and lifts the spirits in a way that is difficult to describe in words, but offers us a special feeling. (You can read about design that transcends by clicking here.)

Architecture that is purposeful can lift the soul – take for example, Notre Dame Cathedral, the design of the space helps lift the occupant in mind, body and spirit through the use of architectural elements: sacredness, sublime, spaces that reach for the sky, ornamental detail, colorful fenestrations, light, beauty, rhythm, patterns and repetition, to name a few.

Not only can sacred spaces serve a purpose and transcend the mind and soul, but so can other great works of Architecture, like museums, train stations, office towers, civic structures, homes and schools. Purpose when combined with architectural beauty and refinement offers people something special that has meaning. That is what our souls crave, people, places and things that can fill our lives with meaning.

Subscribe to our blog for updates on each of the 12 doctrines.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

Inspirational Photo Sources:

Hedjuk Wall House https://i.pinimg.com/originals/4e/41/e0/4e41e019b44ff5475e74a1c2cb78b6e6.jpg

Residential Architecture Example: http://nestpearls.blogspot.com/2013/03/sublime-architecture-chisels-ideal.html

Libeskind Jewish Museum in Berlin: https://www.world-architects.com/it/studio-libeskind-new-york/project/jewish-museum-berlin

São Bento Railway Station, Porto, Portugal: https://mostlytrue.blog/2019/02/16/sao-bento-railway-station-porto/

Thomas Heatherwick’s 2010 Seed Cathedral pavilion: https://archinect.com/news/article/150032966/paul-goldberger-on-the-science-behind-sublime-architecture

Guggenheim Museum in NYC by FLW: https://www.guggenheim.org/the-frank-lloyd-wright-building


The Principles of Architecture: Part 1/12 of the 12 P’s–– A Guideline of Design for Architects and Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect #ilmaBlog #Architecture

A 12 part series on the 12 P’s Doctrine: A Guideline of Design for Architects & Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect; developed by Frank Cunha III, AIA, NCARB, MBA.

PART ONE

First, we start with the solid foundation and the importance of “Principles” in the practice of Architecture.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, commonly known as Vitruvius, was a Roman author, architect, civil engineer and military engineer during the 1st century BC, known for his multi-volume work entitled “De Architectura.” The principles described in his book were later adopted by the Romans.

The Principles of Architecture

For someone to begin to think like an Architect or become an Architect there must be some knowledge of the principles of Architecture.  The knowledge gained is not something that can be grasped in a course or in one year, but it is something that requires a life time.  That is why an Architecture office is called a practice because the architects are practicing a craft.  There is so much to learn about so many different things.  Alas, we must start someplace and start building a solid foundation of knowledge about the topic we love.  As we learn, make (small) mistakes and adjustments we are able to hone our craft and get better with time and experience.  Having a solid foundation of knowledge and precedents will help you become a better designer.

Vitruvius’ discussion of perfect proportion in architecture and the human body led to the famous Renaissance drawing by Leonardo da Vinci of Vitruvian Man.

It has been generally assumed that a complete theory of architecture is always concerned essentially in some way or another with these three interrelated terms, which, in Marcus Vitruvius Pollio’s Latin text (De Architectura (On Architecture), a handbook for Roman architects), are given as: 

  • Firmatis (Durability) – It should stand up robustly and remain in good condition.
  • Utilitas (Utility) – It should be useful and function well for the people using it.
  • Venustatis (Beauty) – It should delight people and raise their spirits.

Nevertheless, a number of influential theorists after 1750 sought to make modifications to this traditional triad.  Architects will always tend to argue, evolve, adapt and create more concepts and principles, however,  these fundamental themes are a great starting point to start to build knowledge.

Other concepts to consider as guiding principles of good architectural design:

  • BALANCE – Balance in design is similar to balance in physics. A large shape close to the center can be balanced by a small shape close to the edge. Balance provides stability and structure to a design. It’s the weight distributed in the design by the placement of your elements.
  • PROXIMITY – Proximity creates relationship between elements. It provides a focal point. Proximity doesn’t mean that elements have to be placed together, it means they should be visually connected in some way.
  • ALIGNMENT – Allows us to create order and organization. Aligning elements allows them to create a visual connection with each other.
  • REPETITION – Repetition strengthens a design by tying together individual elements. It helps to create association and consistency. Repetition can create rhythm (a feeling of organized movement).
  • CONTRAST – Contrast is the juxtaposition of opposing elements (opposite colors on the color wheel, or value light / dark, or direction – horizontal / vertical). Contrast allows us to emphasize or highlight key elements in your design.
  • SPACE – Space in art refers to the distance or area between, around, above, below, or within elements. Both positive and negative space are important factors to be considered in every design.

Subscribe to our blog for updates on each of the 12 doctrines.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Architecture of Hope #ilmaBlog

Everyone loves when new project is conceived.  The designs that are imagined in collaboration with an Architect and an Owner is magical – it is one of the rare opportunities in life when we have some control about creating something meaningful.  An architecture project offers hope and meaning to a world filled with complexity, anxiety and chaos. 

When a project is developed there is a sense of hope that the world will be a better place.  Great architecture allows people’s lives to change for the better addressing the programmatic needs of the client while offering beautiful, harmonic spaces for the occupants.

When an Architect envisions a space for a client, they are taking a wish and making it a reality.  The new spaces that make up the built work will become treasured by those who are able to experience it.  The building itself will shape the lives of the occupants and allow them to do the things they could not before.  Great architecture is more than just a shelter or a place that addresses the client’s need.  Great architecture transcends time and space and connects us in various ways: literally connects us in real time when using the space but also interacts with the occupants as experiences are etched into the memory of the building.  There is a feeling you get when you are in a great building.  It is difficult to describe but the space itself is more than the sum of its parts.  It is a spiritual experience.  An example of such a building for me is the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright or the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts by Frank Furness.

Experiencing these buildings on various occasions exemplifies how Architects can design buildings in a way that epitomizes hope.  There are two definitions for hope: (1) a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen and (2) a feeling of trust.  Indeed, experiencing these spaces and many others the occupant does have a strong desire for something to happen and there is a feeling of trust that something will happen.  When visiting these special places, it is easy to see that designing architecture of hope allows the visitor a chance to experience a space that otherwise would be unexciting and humdrum.

When starting out on a project it is important to address this inherent desire to create someplace distinctive and extraordinary by thinking about how we as great Architects can live up to the desires and hope of our clients, even when they may not clearly see or sense the hope in the vision they are trying to construct.  Our jobs as Architects is to offer hope to our clients through our exceptional and distractive skills, blending art and science and craft when practicing Architecture.   If we can do this then we can create an Architecture filled with hope.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook

Suggested Reading:

My Architecture Manifesto: “Architecture Shall Live On” by Architect @FrankCunhaIII #Architect #Design #Theory #AvantGarde #ilmaBlog #DesignTheory #Architecture

Architects Vs. “Sculptor” Architects based on a conversation btw @WJMArchitect and @FrankCunhaIII

Ophiuchus: The Serpent Bearer (Playing With Numbers)


Ask the Architect: What Are Some Questions College Administrators Should Ask Themselves Before They Start Planning for the Future? #Architect #UniversityArchitect #Ideas #Design #Planning

Sometimes Architects Design and Sometimes They Ask Questions – Here are 50 Questions for College Administrators to Consider as They Prepare to Plan For Their Future:

  1. As an institution what are we good at? What are we not so good at?
  2. Where do we want to go – What is our vision for where we are headed – academically and as a family of diverse individuals?
  3. How will people of all ages (continue to) learn in the future?
  4. How will students live, communicate, develop, work, play, share?
  5. What is the hierarchical structure of education (Provost, students, Student-Life; Administration vs Educators)?
  6. How can we address “Exclusivity Vs Inclusivity” within education (i.e., white, blue, green collars all working together)?
  7. What traditions do we want to keep?
  8. What traditions do we want to eliminate?
  9. How can we offer more value?  How can we offer more by spending less?
  10. How can we accelerate/decelerate the process – what needs to speed up and what needs to slow down?
  11. How can we attract more students from in-state and from out-of-state?
  12. How can we offer more online/hybrid and flip classroom learning?  What other educational methods should we explore?
  13. Who are our clients? Can we identify the student of the future (identity, celebrate, identity)?
  14. How can we establish a “network” of future business/professional relationships?
  15. How can we enable a positive transformation of self-awareness and development into early adulthood?
  16. The “College Experience,” what does this mean?  What will it mean in the future?
  17. How can we become more sustainable?  Are we creating a culture that values the planet?
  18. What are some sustainable strategies that we do well, what are some we need to work on?
  19. How can we utilize our spaces more efficiently during off-hours?
  20. How can we provide better connections to the outdoors, nightlife, theater, arts, dining, sports and other events?
  21. How can we offer more opportunities for community engagement?
  22. How can we consider the college campus as a living laboratory?
  23. What is the changing role of the professor/instructors?
  24. How can we form better interdisciplinary relationships from different colleges to inter-pollinate ideas with one another?
  25. How can we focus and capitalize on our strengths instead of our weakness?
  26. Is the “Tiny house” concept viable for student housing?
  27. Instead of student housing should we follow a “hotel” model?
  28. What does a student center of the future look like? What is a library of the future look like? 
  29. Can we create a new model for (higher) education so our students never stop learning/growing?
  30. Is it viable to transform from a singularly “degree” approach to a “tool box” approach where students gain the building blocks they need for that stage of their career?
  31. What are some public/private partnership opportunities?
  32. How can we promote health and wellness on our campus?
  33. How can we create a walkable campus for all our students and guests?
  34. How can we support our professors and researchers?
  35. How can we develop programs that engage the residents of the state?
  36. How can we develop a culture of caring and giving that shares the same positive values?
  37. How can we capitalize on our close relationship with local parks?
  38. How can we create a better connection with urban areas – Jersey City, Patterson, New York City, etc.?
  39. How can we become an “Innovation” district in our state?
  40. How can we start recruiting students at an earlier age?
  41. How can we better retain our students?
  42. How can we better support our students educational goals?
  43. How can we offer the best college experience for our students?
  44. How can our built facilities improve lives of the people we serve?
  45. How can our grounds improve lives of the people we serve?
  46. How can our people (bus drivers, gardeners, housekeepers, librarians, etc.) improve lives of the people we serve?
  47. How can we become an institution that others want to emulate?
  48. Is there a way that we can work with industry/business partners to leverage our role as an academic research facility?
  49. How can we make learning fun and enjoyable?
  50. How can we offer more meaning to people’s lives?

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


The 12 P’s: A Guideline of Design for Architects & Other People Who Want to Save the World and Design Like an Architect #ilmaBlog

  1. Principles
  2. Purpose
  3. People
  4. Production
  5. Planet
  6. Projects
  7. Programming
  8. Process
  9. Passion
  10. Perks
  11. Profits
  12. Practicality

Subscribe to our blog for updates on each of the 12 doctrines.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook


Some Ideas to Help Aruba Become the Greenest and Happiest Island #Sustainability #Planning #Architect #Island #Eco #Green #ilmaBlog

Having recently visited Aruba earlier this year, and have fallen in love with the island, I would like to take this moment to reflect on ways that the little island nation can achieve its sustainability goals over the next several years.  Over the past few years it has come a long way but there are still many things left to be addressed if it is to be the greenest happiest little island in the Caribbean as it has set out to do.

One Happy Island

Some background information before we begin — Aruba contains 70 square miles (178.91 square kilometers) of happiness and a population of 116,600 (as of July 2018).

The tiny island gem is nestled in the warm southern Caribbean with nearly 100 different nationalities happily living together. We welcome all visitors with sunny smiles and a warm embrace.

Aruba is an island and a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the southern Caribbean Sea, located about 990 miles (1,600 kilometers) west of the main part of the Lesser Antilles and 18 miles (29 kilometers) north of the coast of Venezuela. It measures 20 miles (32 kilometers) long from its northwestern to its southeastern end and 6 miles (10 kilometers) across at its widest point.

Together with Bonaire and Curaçao, Aruba forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. Collectively, Aruba and the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Dutch Caribbean. Aruba is one of the four countries that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with the Netherlands, Curaçao, and Saint Maarten; the citizens of these countries are all Dutch nationals. Aruba has no administrative subdivisions, but, for census purposes, is divided into eight regions. Its capital is Oranjestad. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather. Fortunately, it lies outside Hurricane Alley.

Aruba’s economy is based largely on tourism with nearly 1.5 million visitors per year, which has contributed to Aruba’s high population density.

Despite having one of the world’s smallest populations, Aruba does have a high population density at 1,490 per square mile (575 people per square kilometer), which is more than New York state.

During the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, the island announced it aim to cover its electricity demand by 100% renewable sources by 2020. In the same year, Aruba together with other Caribbean islands became member of the Carbon War Room’s Ten Island Challenge, an initiative launched at the Rio +20 Conference aiming for islands to shift towards 100% renewable energy. The benefits of becoming 100% renewable for Aruba include: reducing its heavy dependency on fossil fuel, thus making it less vulnerable to global oil price fluctuations, drastically reducing CO2 emissions, and preserving its natural environment.

(Sources: https://www.100-percent.org/aruba/; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aruba; http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/aruba-population)

Some of the areas where Aruba seems to be excelling includes their recent ramp up of wind power – capitalizing on the constant wind that keep the tiny island habitable.

Other areas that they can improve on include the following:

Electric Vehicles

A whopping 87 percent of the entire power generation in the Caribbean comes from imported fossil fuels, and because so much of the region’s fuel comes from faraway sources, electricity costs are four times higher than they are in the United States. The economies of these islands are basically at the whim of global oil prices

The Caribbean has some other reasons to be enthusiastic about electric cars powered by a solar electric grid. The islands, on the whole, are small and low in elevation. The vast majority of islands in the Caribbean are smaller than 250 square miles and are fairly flat, with isolated peaks at most. 

This combination makes them ideal for electric vehicles in ways that, just for example, the U.S. is not. Most electric vehicles have limited ranges, with some only offering a hundred miles or less per charge. The higher-end vehicles can go further; the Nissan Leaf boasts 151 miles per charge, the Chevy Bolt 238 miles, and the Tesla Model S 315, but with still-long waiting times for a full charge, that’s about all you’re getting in an individual trip. That’s not great for hour-plus-long commutes from American suburbs, but for smaller islands with fewer hills to climb, that sort of range is just fine.

Customers who drive electric experience common benefits.

  • Charging up with electricity will cost you less than filling your tank with gas. Clients are experiencing savings of up to 50 percent on fuel costs and very low cost of maintenance.
  • Produce no-to-low tailpipe emissions. Even when upstream power plant emissions are considered, electric vehicles are 70 percent cleaner than gas-powered vehicles.
  • “Fuel” up with clean, Aruban-produced electricity and help our island achieve more energy diversity.
  • Drivers enjoy electric vehicles’ silent motor, powerful torque and smooth acceleration.

Although “solar” vehicles would be even better for this region, the ability for the island to “leap frog” ahead of other counties by building in an electric fueling infrastructure would help set it apart from other island nations.

(Sources: http://nymag.com/developing/2018/10/more-like-electric-car-ibbean.html; https://www.elmar.aw/about-elmar/sustainable-energy-and-electric-cars)

Solar Power

Although solar has come down over the past decade I was surprised that not more individuals capitalize on the sunny region with solar roof panels.

The recently constructed government building, Cocolishi, is one of the first buildings on Aruba with a solar roof. The solar panels provide 30 kW of renewable energy.

On the rooftops of the Multifunctional Accommodation Offices (MFA) in Noord and Paradera solar panels are installed. The MFA in Noord is an energy neutral building, this means it produces the same amount of energy as it consumes. The surplus during sunny days will be added to the grid.

Previously, solar panels were installed on the Kudawecha elementary school. These panels produce 175.5 kW solar energy.

The largest school solar rooftop project is installed on the Abramham de Veer School elementary school. This rooftop project produces 976 kW renewable energy.

The Caribbean’s first solar park opened in 2015 over the parking lot of the airport in Aruba. This solar park provide 3.5 MW solar energy and is one of the first renewable energy projects making use of the Free Zone of Aruba.

In Juana Morto, a residential area complex, solar panels are installed on the rooftops of different houses. Together the solar panels generate 13 kW of green energy.

Elmar, the electricity provider of Aruba, installed solar panels on the roofs of their offices. These buildings together provide 9.8 kW solar energy.

There are different decentralized solar projects on Aruba. Together they consist of 5 MW solar PV part and 3 MW rooftop schools & public buildings PV systems. Once built per the 2017 plan, the installation will provide an additional 13.5 MW providing power for approximately 3,000 households.

Given the amount of sunshine this island receives, expanding their solar portfolio seems prudent.

(Source: https://www.freezonearuba.com/business-opportunities/solar-projects-aruba/)

Wind Power

Wind Park ‘Vader Piet’ is located on Aruba’s east coast in the Dutch Caribbean, this wind farm consists of 10 turbines with an actual capacity of 30 megawatts (MW). Aruba’s current wind power production represents about 15-20 percent of its total consumption, which places it fourth globally and still some way behind Denmark, the current global leader, which produces 26 percent of its power from wind. But today, with a second wind farm about to be deployed, Aruba is set to double its wind energy output, placing it firmly in first place.

It’s hard to believe that just a few windmills are able to produce an output of 30 megawatts of energy, suppling 126,000 MWh of electricity to the national grid each year, displacing fossil fuel-generated energy and supporting the island’s transition towards renewable energy sources.

Given that the wind is a constant, exploiting this resource seems like a profitable and intelligent thing to do.

(Source: https://www.utilitiesarubanv.com/main/embracing-the-winds-of-change/)

Off-Roading

I love that the island has embraced off-road vehicles (ORV); it is a great way to experience the beauty around us in a challenging and fun way adding to the experience.  However, it would be very wise to develop designated areas for off-road vehicles to eliminate (or at least minimize) the human impact on the beauty of this island.  Because it’s greatest commodity is the natural beauty – Sun, ocean, nature and wildlife; Aruba (and other island nations) need to consider how to balance the fun aspect with some regulations that will preserve the beauty of the natural world for future generations.

As you may already know, the use ORV’s on coastal beaches is an activity that attracts considerable controversy amongst beach users.

ORV driving is considered as main contributor to land degradation in arid regions.

The most obvious physical impacts of ORV on vegetation include plant crushing, shearing, and uprooting. Such destruction of vegetation in arid ecosystems can lead to land degradation and desertification. Desert plant species exhibit varying degrees of vulnerability to vehicle use intensity, which results in changes in vegetation composition, height, biomass, reproductive structures, cover and seedbank.

(Sources: https://serc.carleton.edu/vignettes/collection/35397.html; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1319562X18301153)

I also notice that many locals and tourists park their vehicles on the shorelines which are inhabited by indigenous plants and animals of all varieties.  This too should be lightly regulated through education or ordinances so that leaky old (or new) vehicles do not stain the natural shorelines that not only belong to us but to our grandchildren’s grandchildren as well.  We need to educate people to be more responsible and not disrupt the natural world with our cars , especially when it can be easily avoided with very little cost impact to the planning of the island.

Stormwater

Following up on vehicle management along the shorelines, another thing I noticed was stormwater runoff; which is not much but should be managed now to avoid a small accumulation over time.  It is still early enough to employ best practices and manage any future problems by building a robust infrastructure now before things get worse.  Because the island is so small it looks like much of the run off drains directly into the ocean.  Following best practices will ensure that the clear waters stay that way long into the future for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.

Circumstances alone should prompt islanders to manage stormwater runoff:

  • Traditional community boundaries often centered on natural drainages (e.g., Hawaiian ahupua’a and Samoan village structure), so residents are aware of how land use changes can affect watershed hydrology.
  • Local economies rely on clear waters, healthy reefs, and robust fisheries; thus, BMPs designed to eliminate sediment plumes offer immediate, visible results to resource users.
  • In some locations, rainfall is the primary source of freshwater, so using BMPs like cisterns or storage chambers to collect runoff for potable and non-potable reuse makes water supply sense.
  • Tropical vegetation is fast-growing and plays a huge part in the water cycle, so stormwater management approaches that take advantage of canopy interception and evapotranspiration to reduce runoff have a high chance of success.
  • Island infrastructure is subject to big storms, rising seas, and tsunamis; therefore redundancy within the stormwater system improves resiliency.

Things that should be considered as the island faces increased development includes the engagement of “low impact development” which is an approach to land development that meets the following conditions:

  1. Avoids disturbance of existing vegetation, valuable soils, and wetlands to the maximum extent possible (e.g., minimizing site disturbance and maintaining vegetated buffers along waterways);
  2. Reduces the amount of impervious cover and, thus, stormwater runoff generated on a site through careful site planning and design techniques; and
  3. Manages runoff that is generated through structural and non-structural practices that filter, recharge, reuse, or otherwise reduce runoff from the site.

(Source: https://horsleywitten.com/pdf/Feb2014_IslandBMPGuide_wAppendix.pdf)

Desalinization

Tasked with providing water for a population which more than quadruples with tourists throughout the year, the Caribbean island of Aruba is building a new 24,000 m3/day (6,340,130 gallons) desalination facility to process seawater from beach wells. Paul Choules & Ron Sebek discuss technical details of the installation, set to replace older thermal desalination units.

This is so awesome and could become a really great way for Aruba to expand its market into other emerging countries that are facing water issues.  Abruba could use its extensive knowledge to help other arid climates deal with lack of drinking water, taking Aruba to the next level as a global leader in this realm.

(Source: https://www.waterworld.com/international/desalination/article/16201943/desalination-plant-profile-aruba-the-pearl-of-the-caribbean)

Cogeneration of Power

Justin Locke is director of the island energy program at the Carbon War Room, an international nonprofit. He said it makes sense for islands to switch to clean power.

“Islands currently pay some of the highest electricity prices in the world. At the same time, they also have some of the best renewable energy resources,” added Locke. Aruba’s plan includes building new solar and wind farms, converting waste to energy, and working to increase energy efficiency.

Aruba has set the ambitious goal of becoming the first green economy by transitioning to 100% renewable energy use. Currently, Aruba is at 20% renewable energy use.

Aruba is known for being sunny all year long and its cooling trade winds. By capitalizing on these natural resources, the island can generate renewable energy. The island is lowering its dependence on heavy fuel oil, lowering CO2 emissions, and reducing environmental pollution.

By steadily continuing its momentum with its green movement and implementing cogeneration of power production it will help the island become sustainable and resilient.

(Source: https://www.netherlandsandyou.nl/your-country-and-the-netherlands/united-states/about-us/aruba-and-you/sustainability-in-aruba)

Conclusion

Although Aruba has promised to become green it is not absolutely clear that it will be able to achieve its aggressive 2020 goals.  However, the future is bright if Aruba is able to continue on its path and starts to take these issues into greater consideration making it a premier destination for people to enjoy.  Becoming the world’s greenest island will ensure that tourism continues to flourish and that the country will continue to thrive in an environmentally-friendly way that will help restore and maintain the attributes that has made it what it has become famous for – a place for people from all over the world to come and enjoy the natural world away from the hustle and bustle of city life and experience the world in a way that seems to be reminiscent of a simpler time and offers us a chance to connect with something much larger than ourselves.  As temporary stewards for the environment it is up to us to protect that which does not belong to us so that future generations can also appreciate these valuable experiences.

We would love to hear from you on what you think about this post. We sincerely appreciate all your comments – and – if you like this post please share it with friends. And feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss ideas for your next project!

Sincerely,
FRANK CUNHA III
I Love My Architect – Facebook